New Corinth Baptist is another African American congregation that was formed shortly after the Civil War. The church you see here was built in 1870, and even though improvements have been made over time, she is intact and a delight for the eye. The land for the New Corinth church was originally purchased in 1854 by William Walter Hooks, one of the most prominent cotton planters in Sumter County. New Corinth was placed on the National Register in 1998 and reports that “William Hooks built the church at that time (1870) using local lumber from his own nearby mill, for which Hooks Mill Road is named. The congregation comprised Hooks’ laborers and their families”.
By 1894, New Corinth reported 294 congregants, making it one of the largest Baptist churches in South Georgia. At the turn of the century, New Corinth also had a church sponsored school that served the local community until it was disbanded in the 1940s. Findagrave has documented over 400 interments in the large cemetery that is now partially overgrown with dense vegetation. The earliest headstone dates back to the early 1900’s but we are certain that there are many unmarked graves in the cemetery that contain people born into slavery or first generation freedmen. This is not unusual in that headstones were simply unaffordable for many, or even most, rural African Americans in the late 19th century. Temporary markers such as fieldstones or wooden markers were used and simply disappeared over time.
We are indebted to the congregation of New Corinth for being such good stewards of this important part of Georgia’s history. They have not only preserved the essential character of the old church, they completed the substantial work required to get her placed on the National Register, where the history of the this 150 year old icon will be preserved for future generations. Be sure to click and scroll the gallery photos below for more history about New Corinth.
This exterior photo is taken from the front yard and shows both the church’s front entry and southern wall. It illustrates how this charming old church fits into the landscape and amongst the trees. The site was chosen in the 1870’s and built by William Hooks and others in the congregation. It looks mighty fine given its age.
For the first hundred years or so, nearby Philema Creek was used for baptisms. During the 1980’s, much of the church and grounds underwent modernization and the cinderblock pool you see was constructed and now serves as the baptismal.
We have now walked from the baptismal pool, through the front door and stand at the rear of the church. We think this Sanctuary is quite lovely and striking with its high, sloped sidewall ceiling treatment all of which is held in place by majestic, post and beam columns.
In this photo, we have moved from the rear of the church and are standing at the Chancel facing the pulpit with its cleverly created and designed Apse area. To the left we see the choir pews and piano. All of the chancel area furniture is finished in the same maple tint and basks in a warm glow. Over the years, the congregations have exhibited loving stewardship and taken great care to see that this old church remains an inviting place of worship.
This photo reveals the presence of a large circulating fan mounted on the gallery knee wall. A fan like this was a must for an old country church like this one. We understand that an air conditioning system has since been installed… much to the pleasure of the congregation! It is creature comforts such as air conditioning, bathrooms, etc along with the Christian fellowship found at New Corinth that helps keep the doors open at these rural treasures. May they continue to prosper and provide us precious links to our past.
These pews reside on the north wall of the sanctuary. The matching choir pews can be seen in one corner. The gallery entry and details are more visible in this shot.
This view from the pulpit reveals the existence of a large gallery at the rear of New Corinth. Entry doors and steps can be seen on each side. This greatly enlarges the seating capacity. We can also see that the back wall was constructed to allow for the building of a vestibule area between the wall and entryway doors. Also worthy of note here are the large, one-over one light sash windows that replaced the original windows during the renovations of the 1980’s.
These unique angel statues keep watch over four graves in New Corinth Baptist Church Cemetery. The graves are: Lafonda M. Goober 1976-2003, Jeanette Spivey 1948-2000, Laura S. Hardy 1944-1991 and V. Sallie Spivey Anderson 1923-2011. Records indicate Lafonda was the daughter of Jeanette. No other records were found to indicate relationships but they likely all have family connections with each other.
Joe Hamilton was born March 29, 1895 and died July 13, 1979. He enlisted in the United States Army at Americus, Georgia on July 29, 1918 and was honorably discharged July 28, 1919. His service card states he served overseas from September 29, 1918 to July 20, 1919. The 1940 Sumter County census shows Joe Hamilton, 44; Minnie, 43 and eight children. Minnie Smith Hamilton is also buried at New Corinth Baptist Church Cemetery.
Val Wilson was born November 15, 1897 and died March 3, 1952. The 1910 Sumter County census shows him as age 15, unable to read or write, working as a laborer, the son of William and Lula Wilson. His service says he was inducted into the Army August 22, 1918 and he was honorably discharged December 22, 1918. He was a private in the 539th Engineers. In the 1900 census his name is given as Savallie Wilson.
Viola Wright was born January 30, 1895 and died May 19, 1914. She was the daughter of James and Ada Wright. Viola is shown as a 5 year old in the 1900 Sumter County census. By 1910, Viola was listed as 14 years old and was the oldest child still at home with 7 younger children in the family. Viola’s Mother, Ada, is also buried at New Corinth Cemetery.
Raymond Fedrick was born January 20, 1914 and died January 21, 1970. In the 1930 Sumter County census he is listed as the 15 year old son of Nelson and Sarah Fedrick. He enlisted in the United States Army November 29, 1942 at Fort Benning, Georgia. He was 5’8” tall and weighed 168 lbs. In February, 1945 he was admitted to the hospital and discharged from the hospital in March, 1945. His diagnosis was wounds from an artillery shell, blast effects. He was discharged from service January 28, 1946.
Alice Denmark Spivey was born about 1861, the daughter of Handy and Jane Denmark. On December 23, 1880 in Schley County, Georgia she married Milton Spivey. By the time of the 1910 Sumter County census, Alice had given birth to twelve children, eleven still living. A death certificate shows Alice Spivey as the mother of an unnamed premature infant who died January 12, 1922. Milton Spivey died October 23, 1923. He is also buried at New Corinth Cemetery.
These two markers almost hidden in the overgrowth are brothers Aaron Glover, Jr. and Homer Glover. Aaron Glover, Jr. was born about 1895 and died September 20, 1919. His death certificate states he died of a wound to the head. Homer Glover was born May, 1889 and died February 22, 1916. Their parents, Dicey Wilson Glover (1860-1921) and Aaron Glover, Sr. (1856-1910) are also buried at New Corinth Baptist Church Cemetery. At least three other brothers, Sydney, Elbert, and Jesse are buried here too. The parents Dicey and Aaron, Sr. were both born into slavery.
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I thoroughly enjoyed this visit to this wonderful historical jewel and learning how wonderfully the congregants honor its past. I also enjoyed ‘meeting’ the passed members who rest in the large cemetery. The Americus area should make certain that this significant historical location is forever preserved and respected. Thanks for your group’s great efforts.
Great job….I love the research that you do to explain the community that centered around this assembly…..
Thanks Larry. Labor of love.